Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Sam Masters||3||2||3||3||2||3||3||19||0|
|2. William Lawson||R||0||2||0||0||2||0|
|3. Kye Thomson||1*||1*||3||2||2||0||9||2|
|4. Josh Pickering||2||2||2*||2*||F||8||2|
|5. Richie Worrall - Rider Replacement||0||0|
|6. Drew Kemp||0||0||0||0||0|
|7. Nathan Greaves||1||0||0||1||2||0|
Team Manager: Neil Middleditch
|1. Rory Schlein||2||3||1||1*||2||9||1|
|2. Benjamin Basso||1*||0||1||3||5||1|
|3. Stevie Worrall||3||1||3||3||1*||11||1|
|4. Stefan Nielsen||0||0||2*||2||1|
|5. Danny King||3||1*||1||2||7||1|
|6. Ben Cook||2*||2||0||1||5||1|
|7. Danyon Hume||3||1||3||1||3||11||0|
The What the Fork Monarchs were comprehensively beaten at Armadale tonight, 50-40, by league leaders Poole Pirates, in spite of captain Sam Masters piling up his highest ever total of 19 points for Monarchs.
Masters said "They're not only the form team in the league but they are really good here at Armadale. Also we didn't have Richie who is one of the best riders on this track. If we're using rider replacement and some riders aren't on, it's tough man! We all tried hard but it wasn't enough."
Having dropped six points behind by heat 4, and shared the next two heats, Monarchs then fought back to get on level terms by heat 9, taking 5-1s in both heats 7 and 9. However Poole regained the initiative and were comfortable winners in the end.
With Richie Worrall sadly still missing and the proposed guest Nick Morris ruled out after crashing the night before, the sterling efforts of the home top three of Masters plus Josh Pickering and Kye Thomson were never going to be enough without a notable contribution from the lower part of the team. That sadly was not remotely forthcoming.
Sam Masters won five races with two second places, very narrowly beaten in one of these. Kye Thomson and Josh Pickering competed manfully but were often struggling to overcome poor gating.
William Lawson should have had a point in heat 1 but suffered a bike stoppage, and did manage a second place in heat 8, but finished with a disappointing tally of 2 from 5 rides. Nathan Greaves also scored 2 but didn't beat an opponent, and guest Drew Kemp on his first Armadale appearance didn't manage to score.
Contrast all that with Pirates' joint top scorer, their number 7 Danyon Hume who won three heats on his way to 11 points! It was his Armadale debut, as with Benjamin Basso who finished with a flying win, and Ben Cook. In truth Poole were rock solid throughout their side, with every one recording at least one win or paid win.
Not surprisingly Monarchs succeeded only when they were able to pair two of their top three, and the mid-match fightback started with a 5-1 for Pickering and tac sub Masters over Steve Worrall.
Two heats later, Kye Thomson rounded Danny King on the first corner and Josh Pickering blasted past King later in the race to bring Monarchs level at that point. Thereafter the Pirates took over and clinched the victory when Pickering came to grief chasing Hume and Nielsen in heat 14.
Monarchs will need improved results in their remaining fixtures to ensure a place in the Playoffs.
Oh, for a return to a time when Friday nights at Armadale were simple, straightforward and tied up well before the interval. The thrill element might be somewhat watered down (like Armadale needs any more water), but at least the old ticker wouldn't have to suffer the stress of too many heart-in-the-mouth moments.
Of course, I'm only joking. Would we really swap this brand of nail-biting high drama for an easier life? I'll let you know when my blood pressure returns from outer space.
Not for the first time this season a cosy night out at the Dale has ended with the entire stadium on the edge of its seat as everything hinged on a final heat decider.
Yes, that crucial ol' Heat 15 again as Sam and Josh's almost obligatory 5-1 salvaged an, some would say, undeserved draw. The Kings of Kent had proved every inch the tough nut to crack many predicted, emerging, for most of the night, as the dominant force.
Basement Boys in the Championship perhaps, but it was their Scottish hosts who seemed certain to be dethroned. Slow starters, Kent took until Heat 8 to forge ahead, but it was an advantage they would maintain right up until that final showdown.
Fortunately for the Monarchs, a flurry of 3-3's kept them within striking distance of their south coast opponents and, with just that last race to go, they took to the tapes knowing that only a first and second would earn them the consolation of the bonus point. Still, with Masters and Pickering pitched against Scott Nicholls and former team-mate Cameron Heeps, it was huge ask. These were two riders of vast experience who, between them, had taken the chequered flag in six of the fourteen heats run so far. In fact, Nicholls had previously finished ahead of Josh three times and Sam twice, while Cam had beaten both leading Monarchs once.
It was clear that something special would be required from the Edinburgh pair – or, of course, something disastrous from either King. In actual fact, it turned out to be a bit of both.
Seriously, who could have foreseen that a flying Scotty Nicholls, on the cusp of a maximum to end what had been a flawless evening of quality speedway, would fall at the ultimate hurdle when even second place would have secured his team the win. But that's exactly what happened. And the Monarchs duo took full advantage. Leaving Heeps in their wake, they roared towards victory, scoring for their team a fourth consecutive Heat 15 5-1 and, phenomenally enough, an eleventh in their last fifteen meetings to go the distance.
Some might disagree but it seemed more like a point gained than two lost. Of course, it's never ideal to lose ground at any time but, let's face it, you don't face a class act like Nicholls every week. If such a thing existed as a Haynes' Manual for building the ideal rider, you could simply reduce it to a single-sheet pamphlet with The Kent skipper's picture on it. Now approaching his twilight years on the track, he's seen it, done it, worn the race jacket, and on Friday's evidence, has lost none of the verve or desire that has sustained his place at the very top of the sport for so long.
It's fair to say a fit Richie Worrall would probably have benefitted the Monarchs. Certainly, one would have expected his four programme rides to have yielded a better return than the 8 points his rider replacement chums managed, had he ridden them himself. Sadly, Richie will again be absent for the meeting with Poole with Nick Morris the initial guest replacement suffering a concussion at Kings Lynn on Thursday night rider replacement is back in the fold. Elsewhere Luke Crang's knee injury sees him miss out as well – a shame after breaking his duck in fine style against Kent – but once again we appear to have bagged another prodigious stand-in in Drew Kemp.
So, it promises to be another cracking contest come the weekend. With all six heat-leaders capable of miraculous things, I guess the onus is on the others to step up to the plate. For the Pirates that task falls to Stefan Nielsen and recent signing Benjamin Basso as well as reserve pair Ben Cook and Danyon Hume. Meanwhile, Edinburgh will look to Willie Lawson, the in-form Kye Thomson and reserve Nathan Greaves to come to the party with some heavy scoring of their own.
Poole have suddenly exploded onto the play-off scene with a number of impressive displays of late including, of course, the 48-42 triumph over ourselves at Wimbourne Road on August 4th. On that occasion, where funnily enough it took a last gasp 5-1 that earned us the bonus point, it was big hitters Rory Schlein, Stevie Worrall and Danny King who exacted most of the damage - 30 of their winning tally of 48 points were picked up by the trio - on an Edinburgh side whose own heat-leading threesome weighed in with all but nine of their 42 points total.
Now, as we move ever closer to the season's conclusion, the Pirates' summary disposal of Newcastle Diamonds on Wednesday of this week hoisted them three points clear of a formidable chasing pack. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Redcar and Scunthorpe were all sitting equal second points wise prior to Eastbourne's sad demise. A few twists and turns to come though and those 3 away points now lost make maintaining a 100% home record the rest of the way all the more vital.
Wednesday 25th August 2021, 10:33pm
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